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Treatments for malignant mesothelioma

Louisville residents exposed to asbestos over a long period may develop malignant mesothelioma. There are four standard treatments for this cancer in addition to one that's currently undergoing a clinical trial. The type of treatment that is chosen will depend on the patient's situation.

The first standard treatment is surgery. In a pleurectomy and decortication, the doctor removes part of the covering of the lungs and the lining of the chest. In an extrapleural pneumonectomy, the doctor removes part of the membrane around the heart, the lining of the chest and diaphragm and the diseased lung.

Radiation therapy is the second treatment. High-energy X-rays or another type of radiation are used to kill the cancer cells or prevent them from growing. In external radiation therapy, the radiation is sent through a machine. In an internal treatment, the radioactive substance enters the body in needle, seed, wire or catheter.

Through drugs injected into the bloodstream, cancer cells can be killed or prevented from multiplying. This is known as chemotherapy. In systemic chemotherapy, the drugs spread to the whole body; the opposite is regional chemotherapy. A less harmful approach to treatment is targeted therapy, which also uses specific drugs to attack cancer cells.

Biologic therapy, or immunotherapy, is currently being tested. Substances made in a laboratory can be used to direct a patient's immune system against the cancer.

Someone who develops an asbestos-related illness may be able to file a claim against the responsible party. This is where a lawyer can come in and have the case investigated. Medical experts could determine the extent of the illness and help in setting a fair amount for the potential settlement. If negotiations between the two sides fail to produce an agreement, the lawyer could proceed to litigation.

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